Major tax havens, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Ireland, have benefited from initiatives to clamp down on offshore finance while the poorest and least important tax havens are bearing the brunt, according to research presented at the Royal Geographical Society’s (RGS) international conference in London.
Speaking at the event – which the RGS is hosting with the Institute of British Geographers (IBG) – Dr Daniel Haberly of the University of Sussex and Dr Dariusz Wójcik of Oxford University said that the initiatives led by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) have driven offshore finance away from minor and impoverished tax havens – including St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Seychelles and the Pacific Island of Nauru – but business has simply relocated to major tax havens in the OECD.
During their presentation, entitled
‘Tax Haven Networks and the Production of ‘Fictitious’ FDI: An Empirical Analysis’
, Dr Haberly said: “This research provides the first quantitative support for claims that the OECD is operating as an offshore financial ‘club’ within which member tax havens are largely given a pass to operate.
“For more than a decade the OECD has spearheaded efforts to address offshore tax evasion worldwide. But, rather than reduce global tax evasion, they have just shifted money around.”
As the centre of the offshore financial world, the UK is now best-placed to lead the global regulation of offshore finance, Dr Haberly claimed. According to his and Dr Wójcik’s research, European Union (EU) anti-tax haven initiatives have had little or no impact.
Tax havens are controlled to a large extent by major onshore financial centres, particularly in former and current colonial patron states, he added. “Offshore finance is Britain’s ‘second empire’ and London has primary control over UK-dependent tax havens.”
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